Keep your vehicle well tuned. Simple maintenance—such as regular oil changes, air-filter changes, and spark plug replacements—will lengthen the life of your vehicle as well as improve fuel economy and minimize emissions. Just follow the schedule in your owner’s manual.
Check your tires. Keeping your tires properly inflated and aligned saves fuel by reducing the amount of drag your engine must overcome. Make sure to get a set of low rolling resistance (LRR) tires. Tires that reduce rolling resistance by 10 percent can improve gas mileage by one to two percent for most passenger vehicles. They are now more common on new vehicles, so in some cases it is just a question of buying a new set of the same thing.
Be weight-conscious. Don’t carry around items you don’t need. For every 100 pounds of weight in your vehicle, fuel economy decreases by one to two percent. Also, reduce drag by putting bulky items inside the vehicle or trunk instead of on a roof rack.
Keep track of your fuel economy. A drop in your vehicle’s fuel economy can be a sign of engine trouble. Keep track of your fuel economy by noting the odometer reading and the number of gallons purchased each time you fill up. To calculate your gas mileage, divide the number of miles traveled between fill-ups by the number of gallons purchased. Most hybrid cars and even some conventional gas vehicles have special gauges that make it even easier to keep track of your fuel economy in real-time, so you can see how your driving habits are impacting your fuel efficiency.
Drive moderately. A green light does not signal the start of a NASCAR race. High-speed driving and jack-rabbit starts increase both fuel use and emissions. Going 65 mph on the highway instead of 75 can cut your fuel use up to 20 percent, and making more gradual stops and starts will bring even more savings.
Don’t let your vehicle idle for more than a minute. During start-up, your engine burns a little extra gasoline. However, letting your engine idle for more than a minute burns more fuel than turning off the engine and restarting it. You can make it easy on yourself by purchasing a vehicle with “stop-start” technology that will automatically shut off the engine and restart it when you take your foot off the brake pedal.